Media Release

18 November 2018

Guy: Youth Boot Camp

Sunday 18 November 2018

Youth Boot Camp

A Liberal Nationals Government will introduce a tough new Youth Boot Camp to give offenders a second chance with a purpose.

If we can give life skills and structure to young offenders to stop them heading down the path of a life of crime then we owe it to them to give this a try.

At every point young offenders face a cross-road – descend into to a life of crime or turn their life around. We will give offenders tough love to help them turn their life around.

The Youth Boot Camp will be based on proven cadet-style training programs that provide structure and discipline along with mental and physical fitness.

Daniel Andrews has lost control of youth crime in Victoria.

Crime Statistics Agency data shows that the largest cohort of offenders for crimes against the person is 15-19 years of age. Between 2017/18 there were 6,880 alleged incidents or 18 per day committed by 15-19 year olds.

Worse still, Daniel Andrews and Labor are failing with youth recidivism out of control with 40% of youths reoffending within 2 years and 61% reoffending within 6 years.

Victoria’s youth justice system is broken but Daniel Andrews and Labor continue to defend the status quo.

That’s why a Liberal Nationals Government will pilot new changes to get better outcomes. More of the same failed Labor policies won’t improve outcomes.

An elected Liberal Nationals Government will expand the existing ROPES program and Community Youth Camps and introduce a pilot program for a Youth Boot Camp that includes military style training programs.

A new Boot Camp will be for youth offenders who have not committed acts of violence or are at risk of committing acts of violence.

The Children’s Court will be able to order attendance at the Boot Camp as an alternative to a custodial sentence in youth justice facilities.

The Youth Boot Camp program will be designed in consultation with serving and former police and military personnel and have a focus on the values of honesty and respect underpinned by the importance of discipline and team work.

Consultation with experts will determine what age groups should be eligible and the appropriate accommodation arrangements for age and gender.

It is expected that the daily program would commence at 6am with supervised, mandatory group exercise overseen by an instructor.

Other aspects of the daily program will include team sports, outdoor activities, as well as a focus on developing employment skills, life skills and other self-sufficiency skills.

Other daily activities would include educational programs focused on the basics of literacy and numeracy, life-skills such as cooking and financial literacy and trade skills such as carpentry.

There will also be an opportunity to participate in team sports like AFL, basketball, cricket, touch football and tennis.

Youths at the Boot Camp will also be expected to maintain the grounds, a greenhouse, and fruit and vegetable gardens. This fresh produce will be for use by the youths at the camp who will be expected to cook and plan meals in small groups.

An important component of Youth Boot Camp is community service in recognition of paying back a debt to society.

The community service element of Youth Boot Camp would likely include day trips from the camp to clean graffiti in suburbs and towns as well as picking up litter and hard waste from parks, beaches and reserves.

During the Boot Camp, there would also be presentations from victims and victims groups about the devastating first hand impacts of crime.

It is expected that participants would live on site for up to 12 weeks under expert supervision, including philanthropic former police and military personnel. The experience with the ROPES program has been that retired personnel have enthusiastically donated their time and expertise.

The pilot project will initially host a maximum of 50 youths at the campsite at any one time.

As part of the Children’s Court order, youths caught breaking established camp rules may be taken out of the program and sent to a youth justice facility for the remainder of the time they were due to spend in the program.

The aim of the program is for youth offenders to leave the Youth Boot Camp with a better appreciation for the values of respect, discipline and provide life skills to help them turn their lives around.

This $5 million pilot program will commence in 2020 and run over two years and complements the philosophy that underpins our Police in Schools program.

It is expected that the site for the Youth Boot Camp will be in regional Victoria.

There are a number of government owned sites that might be suitable but a Liberal Nationals Government will allocate $1 million of this funding for asset purchases and $4 million for operational costs over the two year trial.

Successful completion of Youth Boot Camp will result in no record of conviction for a first time offender.

As a part of this pilot project, an independent review will be undertaken to evaluate the program and advise on improvements to make it more effective.

Comments attributable to Leader of the Liberal Party, Matthew Guy:

“This is for those kids that need some tough love and the importance of values to help them get back in control of their lives.

We need our justice system to instil the values of discipline, honesty and respect into youth offenders to get them back on the right path.

This will not happen in a ‘soft touch’ environment that makes excuses and sets low expectations.

Our Youth Boot Camp will be tough but compassionate and it will focus on teaching values.”

Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Families and Children, Georgie Crozier:

“This Boot Camp will be for kids who shouldn’t be sent to Parkville or Malmsbury but need to learn about values and discipline.

Victoria’s youth justice system is completely broken but Daniel Andrews and Labor continue to defend the status quo.

Between 2017 and 2018 there were 6,880 alleged crimes committed by 15-19 year olds and youth recidivism is out of control with 40% of youths reoffending within just two years.

More of the same failed Labor policies and excuses won’t fix the youth justice crisis.

Only a Liberal Nationals Government will be strong enough to get back in control of youth crime.”